Canal Tours

A Bangkok Canal Tour

In the past decades, people have often referred to Bangkok as the Venice of the East thanks to the systematic river and canal routes serving as transportation channels for residents.

Fast forward to the 21st century, all the state-of-the-art modes of transport in Thailand’s capital city decrease the use of waterways. Yet, canals offer visitors a different perspective into the local way of living. In many provinces around the Land of Smiles, some local people still mainly commute by boat. Their daily journeys distinctively remind new-generation Thais and international tourists how the riverside and canal-based life was decades ago and even today in some areas.

If time and schedules allow, visitors can take cool canal tours and visit fascinating floating markets.


You don’t need to be a fish to enjoy spending some happy time on flowing waters. Some people find solace in the ripples of rivers and canals, each of which can possess such a powerful, soothing effect. Bangkok is a hot spot for river-linked and canal-based tours, leaving visitors flooded with tempting options.

Thanks to the Chao Phraya River running through it, Thailand’s capital has numerous canal routes, which remain as major modes of transport for many communities. Tourists can explore the same commute channels to soak up some aquatic adventures to experience Bangkok from another splendid sightseeing point of view.

Coupled with fantastic floating markets around the country, Thailand is best discovered through wonderful waterways.

Luxury Overnight Cruise to Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Cruise

A Bangkok-Ayutthaya cruise allows visitors onboard a glimpse of what it was like when the great Chao Phraya River was the main mode of transport for Thai people. You can follow in the footsteps of the old days’ travelers on this memorable experience along the scenic route recommended for those fond of the river’s rhythm.

Of all the cruise services from the City of Angels to the former capital of Siam, none is as luxurious as the splendid Loy Pela Voyages by Anantara Group. There are two grand vessels to choose from, Loy River Song and Loy Dream, each being a magnificently-restored rice barge. They provide a perfectly plush overnight journey for up to eight travelers in a private party ambiance with an elite personal chef, a full bar, an elegant and peaceful accommodation, and a golden chance to behold the rich tapestry of local riverside life unveiled from the deck.
Comparable to the luxury Orient Express train journey, this lavish rice barge cruise is an eye-opening voyage back in time to experience the Kingdom of Thailand from a completely different perspective. Set off from the current capital to the ancient capital city of Ayutthaya, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This mesmerizing boat trip along the breathtaking Chao Phraya is hard to beat as far as river cruises are concerned. To learn more about the Loy Pela Voyages cruise, please visit their website, or email them at reservations@loypelavoyages.com.

Khlong Bang Luang

Khlong Bang Luang

Despite new waterside communities vying for the tourism spotlight, Khlong Bang Luang remains the sole epicenter of canal tours in Bangkok. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s Bangkok Tourism Division’s master plan fully transforms the neighborhood into a can’t-miss route when tourists experience the City of Angels.

Regardless of the state agency’s promotion plan, Bang Luang Canal in Phasi Charoen district has already gained some buzz and well-deserved hype as a hidden gem well-worth exploring by boat. Meanwhile, the neighboring Taling Chan district is already home to four different floating markets, namely Taling Chan, Khlong Song, Lat Mayom, and Wat Saphan. BMA’s plan will integrate the parties to strengthen local communities, residents, tourism entrepreneurs, government agencies, and public organizations to streamline joint operations for concrete results.

The Bang Luang or Bangkok Yai Canal itself used to be part of the Great Chao Phraya, but the wide curve of the river at this spot created a longer travel time for foreign ships bound for trades in Ayutthaya. In 1522, King Chairachathirat (who reigned 1534–1546 as King of the Ayutthaya kingdom) commanded a new canal be dug as a shortcut to solve the problem. The new canal gradually expanded due to the strong river currents eroding its banks. As time passed, it grew bigger than the original river and eventually became part of the Chao Phraya. Instead, Bang Luang turned into the canal as we know today. Despite the inferior status, Bang Luang retains its undeniable significance in Bangkok’s history book, remaining one of the oldest riverside communities. It dates back to the Ayutthaya era.

Get onboard a boat to see Khlong Bang Luang and enjoy the slow-paced riverside life showcase as it takes you along the waterway. Although the neighborhood features a floating market of the same name, there are more prominent attractions. Other floating markets on the east side of the Chao Phraya steal some of the limelight away too.

A must-visit is the 100+-year-old ancient art-filled two-story wooden house. Upstairs is a gallery displaying paintings, photography works and other art forms. Coffee and souvenir corners make up the area downstairs. At 2pm daily except for Wednesday, a mesmerizing Thai puppet show will leave visitors spellbound.

Orchid Farms Along Lat Mayom Canal

Orchid Farm in Thailand

Thanks to the increased popularity of the floating market, the Lat Mayom Canal communities have benefited from the booming tourism. Hidden secluded attractions dot the canal, including temples and plantation areas, which were part of the neighborhood long before the floating market opened in 2004. Bangkok-based operators provide a tour to Lat Mayom Floating Market. A half-day laid-back boat tour along the canal with a visit to orchid farms and fruit and vegetable plantations has long been a glorious getaway from the inner Bangkok’s bustling metropolitan pace of living.  Take the sky train to Bang Wa station and hail a cab to Soi Bang Ramad 10 and the floating market. Catch boat service along the canal here.

Most of the canal tours in Bangkok allow for Chao Phraya exploration. Tourists enjoy riverside sightseeing and go through smaller canal routes in different neighborhoods and communities depending on tour operators’ preferences and expertise.

With support from BMA in exploring new canal routes and promoting existing ones, local communities have put concerted efforts into injecting new life into their neighborhoods.

Thailand Local Tour offers a half-day (four hours) service called Water Memories Bangkok Canal Tour along the Chao Phraya and connecting canals. They also operate many floating market packages, among other tours. Please visit their website for more information.

Pandan Tour offers flexible, customizable, small teak boat tours along the canal. They include interesting sites such as orchid farms, local temples, and the nearby Lat Mayom Floating Market. You can reach them at booking.pandan.tour@gmail.com, or via their website.

9 Notable Floating Markets in Thailand

Taling Chan Floating Market

Taling Chan Floating Market

Taling Chan Floating Market is a hidden gem that strikes a delicate balance between authenticity and liveliness with enough commerce and attractions but not immense crowds. In Bangkok’s Thonburi district on the eastern side of the mighty Chao Phraya, the market has many boats selling flowers, fresh produce, and an array of cooked food. Speaking of things worth buying, they are in abundance at the market with reasonable pricing. The riverside market in the area adds to the variety of products. Tourists often double the pleasure of visiting here with an enjoyable one-hour boat ride along small canals, which costs nothing more than about $2 USD. Small and cozy, Taling Chan Floating Market is well worth a visit. Nearby Song Khlong Floating Market at Wat Taling Chan add additional pleasure for the casual, canal-based tour on any given Saturday or Sunday.

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market

Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market lies hidden in central Bangkok, like the one at Taling Chan but bigger and with a broader spectrum of food for slightly higher prices. With increased popularity lately, this market can get somewhat crowded on weekends. Fresh produce from local villages and a wide selection of desserts are some of the highlights here. Ambiance-wise, it oozes the same authentic vibe essential for any fascinating floating market experience. However, there are only a handful of vendors on their boats. Several sellers are crammed in the large covered market on land like in Bang Krachao’s Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market. Not easily accessible by public transport, tourists can take the BTS to Bang Wa station and connect by taxi to the market located in an alley on Ratchapruek Road. Learn more by visiting their Facebook page

Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market, Bang Kachao 

The so-called floating market has much of the canal-side covered area along which locals and tourists can forget about time and get immersed in an expansive array of organic and fresh produce, a complete gamut of consumer goods, and anything you expect from a one-stop market. Located in the Bang Kachao, usually referred to as an ozone-filled oasis or the Great Lung of Bangkok, the market is less touristy yet a great number of foreigners can be spotted mingling with Thais as they stroll along choosing what stall should be the next stop. Additional perks of coming to Bang Nam Phueng include bicycle tracks where tourists can pedal along and beautiful cafes, some located in the market and some scattered around Bang Kachao, which can easily turn their visit into a complete one-day city escape to the island-like getaway. Please visit their Facebook for more information.

Amphawa Floating Market

Amphawa Floating Market

Located a short drive from Bangkok in Samut Songkhram’s Amphawa, the floating market is one of the most famous in the country, drawing a massive crowd on Saturdays and Sundays. In recent years, Amphawa is one of the most popular destinations for weekend getaways, enticing visitors with a laid-back and carefree atmosphere. Though with a vast array of clothing and souvenirs, the market lures most patrons with great food, and families choose to come here for dinner. Most of the floating sellers offer something edible, from noodles to some delicacies. Unlike most of the floating markets best enjoyed in the morning, Amphawa is the place to spend a wonderful afternoon. The market welcomes shoppers from 2pm, but the neighborhood is in its fully lively mode late afternoon onward when it’s not too hot to walk along. A boat ride offers a different way to embrace the riverside life. One of the unmissable highlights is the magnificent fireflies in its natural habitat along the Amphawa Canal and the Mae Klong River. For more information, please visit their social media.

Tha Kha Floating Market

Tha Kha Floating Market

Tha Kha has been gaining recognition as another floating market in the Amphawa district. Lesser known but not overlooked, Tha Kha’s competitive edge lies in ‘the villagers’ market’ vibe. Setting their foot in the market, visitors can’t help but get a glimpse into a local riverside plantation community. For locals above the middle-age range, this is nothing short of nostalgia for the life Thai people were used to decades ago. At that time, the barter system was in place, and villagers exchanged their produce and products. Fresh fruits and organic vegetables are the best sellers here.

Bang Nok Kwaek Floating Market

A small province like Samut Songkhram surprises visitors with a trio of floating markets that take visitors back to when local villagers live a simpler life, selling and trading what they grew. Clusters of colorful wooden houses line Bang Nok Kwaekon. It is the longest riverside market in this small province. Traces of the glorious past are in places around the market. River prawns, nation-wide famous Mae Klong mackerels, as well as organic fruits, top the list of best-selling products. Local eateries serve a series of yummy dishes, including noodles with crab meat, full-flavored ancient-recipe Pad Thai with prawn, and dried, boiled rice, to name a few.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

One of the first floating markets to make its name on the international tourist map, Damnoen Saduak manages to combine mass tourism with local nostalgic charms. For decades, this marketplace’s success paved the way for many lesser-known markets to emerge as attractive options. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market remains one of the most popular of its kind, seducing visitors with an irresistible feast of the senses. The sight of tourists-laden long tail boats, floating vendors, and colorful displays of fresh produce have long been the picture-perfect image postcard lovers are familiar with worldwide. The waterway was designed to link Mae Klong, and Ta Chin rivers during the reign of King Ram IV and remains the country’s longest and the most direct man-made canal. Visit the market early in the morning before it gets too crowded. Since this is one of the first tourist spots, the market, a one-hour drive from Bangkok, offers a systematic boat service by different organizers. A change of scenery and perspective is worth it, though the popularity of the place draws a considerable number of regular floating vendors, making the water traffic a little jammed. To learn more, please visit their website.

Ayothaya Floating Market

Ayothaya Floating Market

Opened in 2010, the World Heritage City of Ayutthaya’s floating market prides itself on being a purpose-built attraction on an over 30-acre plot of land with the water zone surrounded by land areas. The market is in 16 sections, each of which is a market itself and named after the province’s 16 districts. Altogether, it includes 249 shops, 50 of which are floating vendors selling a broad spectrum of merchandise representing Ayutthaya, including river prawns, grilled fish, cotton candy wrapped in roti, and basketry. You’ll find photogenic corners everywhere, and a boat ride to explore the market on the water is available. Ayothaya Floating Market can be reached via their website or their Facebook page.

Pattaya Floating Market

Pattaya Floating Market

Deliberately built as a tourist attraction, Pattaya Floating Market, also known as the Four Regions Market, best suits visitors looking for a cultural site to spend time with family and friends. One of the biggest such markets in Thailand, it covers an area of 100,000sqm. Created in an ancient Thai traditional riverside community, the colorful floating market features walkways and traditional shops built over the water on stilts in a truly relaxing atmosphere. Here you can find Thai crafts and produce available at floating boats and waterfront stores. The market on Sukhumvit-Pattaya Road is in four zones, each of which represents the country’s four major regions—north, northeast, central, and south. With over 100 shops and floating boats, visitors can expect to encounter a series of eateries, fruit stalls, galleries, and souvenir stores. It is heaven on earth for foodies ready to try everything the market offers, such as mouth-watering authentic Thai dishes and classic desserts. For more information, please visit their website.

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